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Furniture Attachment (?) in Form of Bound Prisoner

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Wood, Bone, and Ivory in the New Kingdom

Egyptian artists were resourceful in overcoming the problems of working with difficult materials to make the objects seen here.

Egyptian trees, such as acacia, sycamore, and tamarisk, are too small to produce large planks. Carpenters working with native woods thus had to develop complicated joinery techniques to build large objects like coffins and furniture. For expensive luxury items they used timbers such as ebony, cedar, and juniper, imported from Nubia and Punt to the south and Syria and Lebanon to the northeast. Ancient craftsmen used tools that would be familiar to modern carpenters, including adzes, chisels, reamers, and saws. Many ancient Egyptian wooden objects left in tombs as funerary offerings have survived remarkably well. Undisturbed tombs maintain extremely stable climatic conditions, slowing the effects of repeated expansion and contraction that are so damaging to wood. Egypt’s relatively dry climate also discourages the growth of mold, insects, and microorganisms that feed on wood.

Ancient Egyptian ivory used for carving came from the tusks of elephants and hippopotami. Elephants had probably disappeared from Egypt by the end of the Predynastic Period (circa 3100 B.C.E.), so their ivory had to be imported from Nubia. Hippopotami remained common in the lower Nile Valley until the seventeenth century C.E. Some antiquities mistakenly said to be made of ivory are actually made of the bones or antlers of cattle, sheep, goats, and antelopes. Egyptians used the often ideally shaped leg bones of these animals to create the handles of tools or weapons.
CULTURE Egyptian
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 6 3/4 x 1 1/2 x 3/4 in. (17.1 x 3.8 x 1.9 cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden figure of a bound prisoner (arms at the sides) without bindings. The head is turned to the left. Small vertical holes are seen in the head and neck and large vertical slot exists in the top of the back. Condition: Cracked slightly on the front of the simple kilt shown. Crack at the lower right edge of kilt and in right leg, these last two being intentional. Four slits in the surface around the edge of the vertical slot on the back appear to be intentional as well.
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